Dunk the Weeds
for Sunshine Walleye
By Justin Hoffman
Hot, penetrating sunshine and
the sensitive eyes of the walleye can make for a frustrating and
energy-draining day out on the water for the exuberant angler. Fish become
scarce during these trying times and without the proper locations or
techniques needed to find and catch these fish, a fisherman's moral can
reach an all-time low. Green, healthy weeds, a handful of jigs and a
technique called "dunking" are all that are needed to find success during
these "dog days" of summer.
Where are the Walleye
the days of summer when the humidity and sun become scorching hot, the
intuitive walleye will begin his retreat and search for cooler climes for
a more comfortable existence. Although common knowledge tells us that
walleye and rocks are the perfect pair, the green vegetation that is on
your home lake is also a preferred habitat for a walleye seeking shelter.
Shallow, fertile lakes are the number one choice for patterning walleye
this way, however, any lake that supports weeds will always play host to
weed-wandering walleye. Water that is relatively clear and is less than
ten feet deep are the most ideal characteristics to target for certain
Green weeds lure walleye in for a number of reasons. They provide a
cooler environment, shade from the sun, oxygen, safety and comfort and an
abundant food source with an added ambush point for attack. When you put
all of these pluses together, you get a sure-fire plan for putting walleye
in the boat.
When the sun is beating down, there will be certain weeds and areas
that will draw fish in more than others. Look for the greenest, most lush
vegetation that you can find. These weeds can take the form of coontail,
milfoil or a variety of other species, but they must have a base or
openings for the walleye to lurk under and through. Also, try to pinpoint
weed areas that are relatively close to deeper water. Walleye feel safer
when deeper water is in the vicinity as it provides an escape route - the
shallow weed flat, in turn, provides an ideal feeding shelf. One last
thing to keep an eye out for is isolated weed clumps in the area you are
fishing. Huge expanses of vegetation will hold good numbers of fish, but
isolated weed clumps provide a hiding area in a vast space of "coverless"
water that roaming fish happen to stumble upon and call home.
Dunk till you Drop
Dunking is a close-range fishing
technique that involves lowering your lure vertically down from your boat
into a weed pocket. The maximum amount of line you will use in most
situations is ten feet, so be prepared to for some excitement when Mr.
Walleye takes a fast swipe at your jig.
There are two ways to approach a weed pocket for dunking - drifting
and by using your electric motor. If the winds are calm and you are
fishing a large expanse of weeds, simply allow your boat to drift with the
breeze and dunk all of the pockets that you can as your boat slowly drifts
If the winds are stronger,
however, or if you are fishing isolated weed clumps, your best bet is to
use your electric motor. A bow-mount is recommended for this application,
as they are easier to steer, and stand, while fishing.
The art of dunking is quite simple and easy once tried. Let out
approximately ten feet of line and hold this excess line in your left hand
close to the reel seat and out to the left. Either drop your bait directly
into a pocket while you are over it or make a short "flip" to a pocket in
front of you. Either technique is deadly on these hungry weed walleye.
Tools of the Trade
The tools that are necessary to seek out weed walleye are
quite basic. Start with either a sturdy spinning or baitcasting rod in a
medium-heavy action. Look for a rod with a lot of backbone in the lower
three-quarters, as these short-line hooksets can be bone jarring. Ten to
fourteen-pound monofilament or any of the braided lines are the preferred
choice for strength and for horsing the fish out and away from the
Jigs are the mainstay for this type of fishing, with Bucktails getting
the nod as top producer for dunking situations. Choose a bucktail that is
quite heavy (1/2 oz. to ¾ oz.) as these will penetrate the weed growth
easily and will get down to the base of the vegetation quickly. Colour is
a matter of personal preference, although mimicking the local baitfish is
always a good idea. (I also like to choose a bait that has some brightness
in the colour of the hair as this can help in visually seeing the bait
sink to the bottom.) Lastly, make sure that your jig has a top-quality
hook that is both sturdy and sharp. Walleye have a tough mouth and the
easier your hook penetrates, the higher the chance of success.
Seven Steps to Better Dunking
1. Allow your jig to flutter freely to the bottom, snapping it off any
vegetation it comes into contact with on the way down.
2. Maintain a fairly tight line on the fall.
3. Jig up to a dozen times in productive looking weed clumps.
4. Experiment with different jigging motion and lifts and pauses.
5. Apply scent to your bucktail or tip with livebait for finicky fish.
6. Be prepared for a hard hit from a charging walleye and make sure you
get its head up and coming toward the boat.
7. Patience is the key and persistence will pay off when dunking.
When the sun is shining bright and the walleye seem to have disappeared,
dig out those bucktail jigs and spend a day dunking the weeds. By trying
this deadly technique on your home lake you are guaranteed a day of
close-contact walleye excitement that is sure to please.
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